Adapting to Change: How The OU Esports Club is Thriving in 2020

Disclaimer

SoonerEsports.org is a publication that typically covers collegiate and professional esports. The camps that The OU Esports Club hosted this year were hosted for grade school students. Because of this, no names of underage campers are used. They are referred to by their gamertags and by the pronoun ‘they/them.’

This “new normal” has crushed a lot of summer dreams for anyone living in 2020. Always standing 6 feet apart, with a mask on, makes any normal summer activity almost impossible.

Luckily, gamers have been equipped with computers, internet, and a backlog of games to enjoy while normal life has been put on pause.

And since gamers are equipped for entertainment during a pandemic, the OU Esports club decided to move their summer online.

This summer, amidst a global pandemic, The OU Esports Club hosted virtual training camps for students in grade school, a different focus from their traditional collegiate programming.

Focusing on Overwatch, CS:GO, and Rocket League, campers got to spend time with coaches from the OU Esports Club. They spent the week sharpening skills, learning new tactics, and working on team building and communication with like-minded individuals, while scrimmaging other players. At the end of the camp, players participated with their teammates and fellow campers in a tournament in their respective games, giving the players a chance to show off their skills and knowledge they’ve gained throughout the week.

Firefury, who attended an Overwatch camp, said that they “I enjoyed scrimmaging, since we got direct feedback after each game, I also enjoyed the VODS* since I got to see games with a new perspective.”

Another Overwatch camper, TheWizardRed, says they “[felt] like the hands-on experience really helped me improve, I improved my teamwork, communication, and leadership skills a lot”.

While Esrepidys stated that their Rocket League camp was focused less on improving their skills during the coaching, but instead “focused on giving us the mindset to improve after the camp.” and how to “find and fix your own mistakes.”

"I definitely would return. I don’t know if I could make it in person but I would absolutely try to attend."

TheWizardRed- North Carolina

Since the camps were held virtually, this gave OU Esports Club the opportunity to host gamers from all over the U.S, and give them a taste of what OU has to offer.

Esrepidys, a current high schooler from Virginia stated that he attended the camp because “it was the only (Rocket League) camp available online.”

Firefury, who currently resides in Minnesota, even stated that if the camps were to be offered again, an “in-person [camp] I would not prefer but I would still like to attend [virtually].”

These camps also offered an amazing experience for some of the current students in the club. A handful of members got the opportunity to become coaches to this new generation of esports athletes. They spent weeks getting the fast-paced curriculum ready for an online setting. They not only got to help prepare gamers for the collegiate e-sports world, but they got to develop their own leadership skills.

To see how our skilled coaches pulled it off- head over to The OU Esports Club’s Twitch Page, or check out Coach Thumper’s introduction to his Overwatch Camp below.

I actually think a virtual camp is amazing since we can stay home at our own setup and use easy programs like Discord, I just find it alot easier

Firefury

Other than the games themselves, the organization implemented Discord, a popular messaging and digital distribution platform designed for communities just like The OU Esports Club.

The app allowed the camp as a whole to meet when their day started and is designed to allow sub-communities within the app, so that coaches can take their teams aside, teach them skills, review plays, and set one-on-one meetings between players and coaches.

Discord was an integral part of hosting a virtual camp. It now serves as a hub for campers to continue their education by keeping in touch with their coaches and fellow players and to allow a space for additional practice within their respective game.

These camps were hosted in collaboration with Esports Camps, whose mission is to “bring young players together to learn new skills, train as a team, and grow the community.”

Another mission of Esports Camps’ is to educate parents of gamers, and the general public, about the misconceptions of online gaming and how they can assist young players with teamwork and communication skills, expand career opportunities, and develop more advanced social skills.

If you have any questions about the camps, feel free to view the Esports Camps Sooner Esports Camp page. If you have any questions over the positive aspects of online gaming, visit Esports Camps’ Parent F&Q or check out our article ‘Are Video Games Really Bad for You?’ that covers those topics.

The world may look a little different, but The OU Esports Club has shown that the change is no issue when it comes to readying the future of esports athletes.

*VOD, or video-on-demand, refers to the video playback of past matches (in the respected video game) 

Bailey Brown

Bailey Brown

Bailey is an advertising major, nonprofit studies minor in her third year at the University of Oklahoma. She was given her first gaming device at the age of 9 and hasn't put it down since. She enjoys the exploration and puzzle solving of The Legend of Zelda and claims she can "beat anyone" in Mario Kart or Super Smash Brothers. Follow her on Twitter @MissBaileyKay

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